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New face takes command of Naval Hospital Oak Harbor
In observance of a time-honored tradition, Naval Hospital Oak Harbor held a formal change of command ceremony Friday, Aug. 31 at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
Mother Nature provided picture-perfect weather for the ceremony, which was held in the outdoor amphitheater of the Naval Ocean Processing Facility, a scenic backdrop as Capt. Edward Simmer relieved Capt. Susan Lichtenstein as the hospital’s commanding officer. Special guest for the occasion was Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison III, Commander, Navy Medicine West.
Faison sang the praises of Capt. Lichtenstein, who took command of NHOH in April, 2010.
“I am here to recognize a truly outstanding team,” Faison said. “You have made a difference in the lives of those who came to you and needed your help.”
According to Faison, under Lichtenstein’s leadership, NHOH achieved exceptional results, as all 20 aviation squadrons earned the Blue “M” award for medical readiness two years in a row.
“That’s unheard of in the Navy,” Faison said. “You are the model the Navy holds up when showing others how it should be done.”
Faison also had words of praise for new commanding officer of NHOH, Capt. Edward Simmer.
“He is absolutely the right man to continue the great work begun by Capt. Lichtenstein,” he said.
For her part, Lichtenstein spoke affectionately of her time at NAS Whidbey.
“I love Naval Hospital Oak Harbor,” she said. “It was an honor and privilege to take command. But all good things must end.”
Lichtenstein had high praise for the staff and crew of the hospital and also spoke highly of the Oak Harbor community at large.
“I don’t believe there’s another duty station anywhere that has the support of the community like this one,” she said. “It’s hard to say goodbye.”
Lichtenstein will now serve as Deputy Director of the Command Leadership School in Newport, R.I.
Capt. Simmer, a native of Ohio, comes to NHOH from Naval Hospital Beaufort, S.C., where he served as executive officer. Simmer is board certified in general and forensic psychiatry and is also certified in administrative psychiatry and in group psychotherapy.